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Editorial: Ways our economy has grown over the last eight years

The loud noise from the Opposition side in Parliament cannot drown the fact that the Fijian economy has grown consistently in the last eight years. Fijian debt and inaccuracies surrounding
10 Mar 2018 11:12
Editorial: Ways our economy has grown over the last eight years

The loud noise from the Opposition side in Parliament cannot drown the fact that the Fijian economy has grown consistently in the last eight years.

Fijian debt and inaccuracies surrounding it was made a campaign issue in 2014. It is no surprise that this is once again a political tool. But some things should not be politicised.

And our economy is one of it.

Some facts about where the country stands right now:

Nominal Gross Domestic Product or GDP per person in 2017 stood at over $12,000, almost doubling from $6419 in 2006. This is the highest ever we have seen in our history. Even real GDP per capita reached its highest ever level at around $8000 last year.

The most basic explanation of this is that Nominal GDP is the total amount of money spent on all new and final goods in an economy.

  • Foreign reserves peaked at over $2.4 billion last year;
  • Visitor arrivals were at the highest level ever in 2017 (842,884 visitors) – almost close to our total population;
  • Tourism earnings for 2017 is again projected to reach a record level at close to $1.8 billion;
  • Government tax collections are at the highest level despite the lowest tax rates (we now have the lowest personal income tax rate, lowest corporate tax, lowest VAT rate and no dividend tax, but still revenue collections continue to rise );
    • Corporate tax reduced to 20 per cent from 31 per cent in 2006 and 35 per cent in 2000;
    • Income tax threshold raised to $30,000 from $8,840 in 2006;
    • VAT to 9 per cent.
  • Since 2007, over $4.8 billion has been injected in the education sector by the Government. Spending on education in 2017/2018 – $964.4 million, including $170 million for school rehabilitation (Fiji has one of the highest education spending to GDP ratio in the region);

But what does all this mean for a farmer in Sigatoka?

It means that we are growing as a country. National Federation Party has come out and declared that they will reduce VAT on 15 basic food items. They have already classified butter as one of the 15.

That is not a new initiative. That has been done previously and has had little to no benefits for the ordinary Fijian.

Why? Because that cost saving was not passed onto consumers by the wholesalers. FijiFirst has done something previous governments did not have the political will to do. FijiFirst has gone out to hold these big businesses accountable.

Fiji Revenue and Customs Service, Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission and Economic Intelligence Unit at the Ministry of Economy has some of the institutions holding these businesses accountable. Teams from these institutions are working around the clock to ensure the savings that Government makes ends up benefiting consumers.

And as it has been said many times in Parliament before, people do not only survive on 15 basic food items. It needs political will to make things happen. And things are happening now.

As James Carville, the campaign strategist of Bill Clinton had said: “It’s the economy, stupid!” It would pay the Opposition to pay heed to this.

Jyoti Pratibha

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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